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May pera sa parokya! UP’s Victor hits proposed wedding fees at Santuario de San Antonio

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University of the Philippines professor Victor Avecilla has scored the parish priest of Santuario de San Antonio, a church within the posh Forbes Park subdivision, for wanting to make money off weddings by proposing hefty fees for suppliers.

In his April 7 column for the Manila Standard, Avecilla said Father Jose Galoy probably thought “many Filipinos were born yesterday” by claiming that the annual accreditation fees for suppliers were intended for a good cause.

He said the fees and cash bonds— which go up to as much as P65,000 for couples who want to get married at the parish but are not residents of Forbes Park— have no relationship with preserving the sanctity of marriage, as Galoy claimed.

“Church ushers and service personnel present during the wedding, and even the officiating priest himself, can see to that. In fact, money and solemnity are almost incompatible,” he said.

Avecilla, who teaches at the College of Mass Communication, wondered why Galoy would need more money when Santuario de San Antonio earns from renting out its chapels and pavilions. Wealthy parishioners also donate regularly.

“All that revenue is, by law, tax exempt. Being so, does Galoy really need more revenue?” he asked.

Avecilla expressed doubt about Galoy’s claim that the accreditation fees to be collected from wedding suppliers and couples will go to outreach programs.

“Just how many people have seen priests from high-end parishes visit prisons, hospitals for the poor and desolate, and homes for the aged—on a regular basis?” he said.

Avecilla said the money making scheme at Santuario de San Antonio is also replicated in other churches, in what he called the commercialization of Catholicism.